Between Wattpad, Jukepop, Widbook, Fanfiction.net, and other sites, there’s no shortage of places to post and or read short works. But UK-based Comma Press thinks all those sites are lacking one key aspect: audio.
It remains one of the paradoxes of publishing that while the popularity of essays and shortform writing (or longform journalism) multiplies online, short stories – as books or ebooks – remain one of the hardest sells around. Everyone seems to have time for the latest political thinkpiece or tech industry encomium, but few people spend a comparable time with short fiction.
Manchester-based Comma Press specialises in short stories, so this paradox is something it’s interested in addressing. Comma has always been experimental, starting as an artists’ group and developing by publishing small booklets and anthologies of new writers. Now it is launching MacGuffin , a self-publishing platform for fiction, essays and poetry, as text and audio.
When I first read about that site I was puzzled that The Guardian’s writer had no grasp of the many sites where you can find short works (I don’t think he had even heard of the Kindle Store).
Aside from the extensive analytics, there isn’t much that is new in MacGuffin that you cannot find elsewhere (and even the analytics isn’t new; Wattpad has it). But I signed up for MacGuffin, anyway, just to see what it offered, and I’m glad I did.
What I found interesting about MacGuffin was the focus on audio. While Wattpad will let you add a soundtrack to a story, MacGuffin lets the creator upload an audio file. The audio file is treated as the equal of the text story, making it possible for an author to share an audiobook version of the story.
What with the high quality TTS apps available today, an audiobook is worth less than it used to be, but authors could also use this option as a sort of podcast which expands on the text story.
I’d like to see what authors could do with it. What kind of story could they tell?
image by itsmeritesh